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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Unsolicited emails from strangers don’t require response

Jacobina Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is my obligation to reply to unsolicited business contacts? I recently received a second email from a person who wishes to sell me something. I ignored his first message, but his second was personalized and suggested that we meet (presumably in my office) at a specific time and date. I have no interest, and in any case will be busy then.

Should I politely respond that I do not wish to use his product? Or is it acceptable to merely continue ignoring his requests and those like it?

GENTLE READER: You are under no obligation to respond to commercial solicitations. These are not your friends, no matter how familiarly they address you (“Hi, Bob! Can we talk insurance for a minute?”).

However, if you wish to put an end to these requests, it might be wise to say, “I’m sorry, but my company and I are not interested in your product. Please take us off of your contact list.” Miss Manners does not guarantee results.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: One of my housemates constantly keeps napping in the living room, usually when I am still in it.

His justification is that “it’s a common room.” But mine is, “Napping is an activity that takes the commonality out of the common room, and there are other rooms for napping.” Is this considered inconsiderate to me, or am I just being too territorial?

GENTLE READER: Your housemate’s ownership of the room is equal to your own, Miss Manners is afraid. But this also means that, without being provocatively inconsiderate, you need not refrain from using that room as well. And yes, watching television might be one of those things. If the noise bothers him, you may then say, “Perhaps you would like to nap in another room where you can have more privacy.”


DEAR MISS MANNERS: The couple next door, with whom I have begun to build a good relationship, went on an overseas vacation and asked one of their friends to house-sit for two weeks.

Today, I noticed four other cars parked in front of their house. From the chatter over the fence, I could hear that the house sitter had invited a small group of people to the house for a gathering.

I do not know if my neighbors gave the house sitter permission to invite guests. When my neighbors return, how can I delicately broach the subject without sounding accusatory toward the house sitter, but in a way that would make my neighbor aware of what happened?

GENTLE READER: Were they causing a neighborhood disturbance? Other than commanding your attention to watch, Miss Manners means.

You do not know if the arrangement allowed the house sitter to entertain. If you feel you must speak up, Miss Manners will allow you to say something like, “How wonderful to have friends whom you can trust. They were so considerate when they threw their party at your house last week. We hardly heard a peep.”

If your neighbors balk, you can look shocked saying, “Oh, dear. I just assumed that you knew.”

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)